Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry


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A McWhirtle is a light verse form similar to a double dactyl, invented in 1989 by American poet Bruce Newling. McWhirtles share essentially the same form as double dactyls, but without the strict requirements, making them easier to write. Specifically:

  • McWhirtles do not require a nonsense phrase (e.g., "Higgeldy piggeldy") on the first line.
  • There is no requirement for a double-dactylic word in the second stanza.
  • There is an extra unstressed syllable added to the beginning of the first line of each stanza.
  • Although the meter is the same as in a double-dactyl, syllables may move from the end of one line to the beginning of the next for readability.

The looser form allows poets additional freedom to include additional rhymes and other stylistic devices.

An example by American poet Kenn Nesbitt:

Fernando the Fearless
We're truly in awe of
Fernando the Fearless
who needed no net
for the flying trapeze.
Alas, what a shame
it's surprisingly difficult
catching a bar
in the midst of a sneeze.

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